Brief Encounter With ... Daniel BoysDate: 31 January 2011
Having left drama school early to join the UK's first national tour of Rent, Daniel Boys came to prominence in the BBC's search for a Joseph, Any Dream Will Do. Having spent two years in irreverent puppet musical Avenue Q, Boys also has credits including the European tour of West Side Story, musical thriller Wolfboy at Trafalgar Studios and cabaret performances at venues such as the Delfont Room, The Pheasantry and the Leicester Square Theatre.
Boys rejoins Avenue Q co-star Julie Atherton in Adam Gwon's musical Ordinary Days with a cast which also includes Alexia Khadime and Lee William-Davis. Directed by Adam Lenson and with musical direction by Richard Bates the show opens at Trafalgar Studios 2 on 10 February (previews from 8 February) for a limited run until 5 March 2011.
As well as his upcoming performance, I was lucky enough to talk to Daniel about being back on stage with Atherton, spending two years in the West End talking to puppets and his new contemporary album which fans can expect later this year.
Ordinary Days is about four different people and - it sounds cliched - their ordinary day in New York. It's set over the course of a day and Julie Atherton and myself play a couple. You kind of learn about our relationship, but there are another couple who start not knowing each other, and meet.
It's also about their journey and becoming friends. The two couples never meet, and we have nothing to do with the other two characters. It is almost like having gone to New York and catching a glimpse of two couples going about their days.
It's a really good musical by a young American composer called Adam Gwon, I love these modern American musicals. You could say it's Jason Robert Brown-esqe, it's brilliant. There's no script, it's completely sung through, when I first got the score and put it on I listened to it and loved it straight away.
The way the stories are expressed musically is brilliant and as an actor its a challenge to sing it, this is not easy music. The character I'm playing, Jason, is a nice guy who is always trying to impress his girlfriend. Basically he's moved in with her and he's kind of struggling as to why she's not giving him as much as perhaps she should be. She maybe doesn't love him as much as he loves her, and there is a reason for that, which you find out at the end of the show. I loved the character and I jumped at the chance to perform with Julie again. I think it'll be a great piece.
Julie and I are having lots of laughs, we're friends anyway but I really admire her as an actress and as a performer at what she does. She keeps me on my toes because I always feel because she's so good, that I have to be as good as her. That's why I love working with her. She's a very giving actress, with so many ideas, we have a real laugh and are both loving being back on stage together.
I didn't see Ordinary Days when it played the Finborough in 2008, but I know that since then it's had some new songs added and some work done on it. Julie was in the show there and she's said to me that any of the faults she might have thought which existed in the show then, have now been ironed out and I know she's looking forward to doing it again.
I did Wolf Boy in Trafalgar Studios 2 last summer. It's very different doing musicals in such small spaces to playing huge theatres. It's a completely different feel as a performer. Normally in a big venue you can't really see the audience, and once the lights are on you, it's so vast. In this show they're literally sitting on top of you and they're at your feet. You can see the audience's reaction, you can see exactly what they're thinking, you can see if they're smiling or where they're looking.
You've got to look through them, and it's not like we're ever addressing them in this piece, we're never narrating or anything. What I love is that ever subtle movement that you make people can see. Even if it's a slight eye movement or a twitch of the hand, they will see it. It makes it more naturalistic, more like television or film.
We recently announced that Julie and I will be doing concerts after some of the performances. I'm doing for Friday night concerts over the course of the run and Julie is doing the Wednesday nights. I don't quite know what I'm going to be doing yet, I did a season of cabarets last year and I know I want it to be different. The show will still feature some of the music which is on my album. I graduated from drama school almost exactly ten years ago and I want to sing songs from some of the shows I've been in.
Looking back, I left drama school and joined the UK tour of Rent, which is a show I absolutely love. Being my first job, that was just such a highlight. It was such a brilliant start to my career. The Joseph programme, was a bizarre experience, is one that I will always cherish. Getting to work on Avenue Q, which a show which I was a massive fan of, was just great.
We're rehearsing in the same building as the Avenue Q tour at the moment which is very strange. I keep walking along the corridor and seeing them with their puppets. I haven't seen the puppets since doing the show. I keep wanting to run in and say hello to all the puppets. They told us when we started rehearsing the show that we's start talking to the puppets, and you do! It's bizarre.
I spent two years on that show; two years is a long time and I'm glad I left when I did, but I loved the time I spent in it. I was very proud of having been involved in the show. I really hope the tour goes well.
I love the work of composers like Jason Robert Brown and Lance Horn. Lance has just performed a showcase at the Garrick and I saw him working with Alan Cumming last year and he's written some lovely stuff, really heartfelt. Julie has just been across in The States working with him and she was saying she cried at the end of practically every song.
Scott Alan is another great composer, I think he writes from the heart. His songs are very moving and are great songs to act. I did a show called I Love You Because at the Landor which was written by Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman and I think that music is just stunning, beautiful music.
In this country we're churning out the same old "classic" musicals, remakes of those and jukebox shows. I think we're really lacking good musical theatre writers - we don't cherish them. I'm thrilled for Stiles and Drewe and I really hope Betty Blue Eyes is a success, because it's going to really stand out in the West End and the pair of them are lovely.
Looking at the other shows which are currently in the West End, Wicked I think is an amazing musical. One of my favourite musicals is Miss Saigon, it was one I listened to growing up and I think it's stunning. Sadly it's not in the West End any more. I mean you can't discount Les Miserables, which is great music, it's beautiful and it's stunning, but I don't think I'd want to be in Les Mis. It's become a landmark of the West End and isn't new any more.
I think the greatest musical ever written is West Side Story, it's just crafted perfectly, the lyrics and the libretto - everything. That's certainly one of the highlights of my career so far, that I was lucky enough to do the European tour playing Tony. It was stunning to be able to sing those songs every night.
I'm going to be doing another album later this year, and it's not going to be so musical theatre. It's going to be a lot more contemporary, almost pop musical theatre songs. I have something lined up, which I'm not allowed to say anything about, but it is another theatrical piece, more like a revue.
In June I'm going to Australia to perform in the Adelaide musical theatre festival which they've asked me to sing at so that's such an honour. I've never been to Australia, so to be able to go there and to sing, is wonderful. It's a busy year at the moment, which I'm thrilled about.
Ordinary Days opens at Trafalgar Studios 2 on 10 February (previews from 8 February) where it plays a limited run until 5 March 2011. Daniel can be seen in concert at Trafalgar Studios on 11, 18 and 25 February and 4 March.